Was He Ever My Brother?

June 1, 2012
By , Prosser, WA
Everyone has that one story they don't want to tell. Everyone has a past. And everyone learns lessons from their past. I have an older brother. He's the story that I don't like to tell. He's the reason for my past. But, he taught me lessons I'll never forget. Lessons about myself and about my life.

Lesson # 1: Family is important. My mom and dad would show me some of my baby pictures, like any normal parent does. A box full of them. One of my parent's favorites was of my brother and a nurse in the hospital, as he learned how to bathe me when my parents couldn't.

Lesson #2: It's important to know your place. He would fight with people when they stepped out of line. Especially when he knew other people were involved. I remember I would look up to him, and think he was so brave for fighting with my cousins when they 'stepped out of line'.

Lesson #3: Protect your sibling's innocence for as long as you can. When I was little, he'd hoist me onto his shoulders and carry me around like I weighed nothing. He made sure I didn't understand what a kid my age shouldn't. He kept a lot of things from me. Like the time he broke up with his girlfriend. I was used to seeing her around all the time, and when she stopped showing I was upset. He made sure I didn't know what went on. He'd tell me things were alright when they weren't. When he wrecked our car, he broke his arm for the third time. He said he was alright, but I didn't know that if it happened again his arm would be paralyzed.

Lesson #4: Never let your loved ones down. When I was so scared, he found me crying with my mom. He smoked a lot, and when I told him why I was crying, he promised he was trying to quit. I honestly believed he was. I didn't register the way he looked down nervously.

Lesson #5: It's okay to do wrong, if it's for family. My brother worked at a frozen food plant, and we'd visit him every now and then at work. It was freezing. So cold. I was shivering and nervous, because I was only ten, and he seemed to notice. He looked at me pitifully and asked if I wanted a pizza. I smiled and nodded. He carefully picked his way to the truck they were unloading. My brother disappeared into the back of the truck, coming back a few seconds later with a frozen pizza box. I didn't notice how his eyes seemed to dart around nervously as my little arms wrapped around his huge waist.

Lesson #6: It's okay to lie. Of course, it doesn't always have to be out of love. It was a few excruciating years before I found out about the things he “protected” me from when I was young. By then, it was already too late.

Lesson #7: You can never do too much wrong. He got arrested. Several times. He lost his license and stopped trying to quit smoking. As if that hadn't been bad enough, things got worse. I didn't think it could.

Lesson #8: When all else fails, give up. I was ten. I wasn't ready to face this kind of thing, yet it came regardless. I had been shopping for hours and every step I took felt like I was stepping on needles. But I still found him a present. I wrapped it up and put it under the Christmas tree. It's been a few years, and I don't remember much about that Christmas. I do remember pacing around the living room, whining to no one about my brother not being there. But your brother is here, my mom pointed out, talking about my younger brother. Not him, I whined. My mother finally got fed up and told me the truth. He wasn't coming. He isn't my brother anymore. And she was right. I'd look at his chair, reserved for him because I didn't believe my mom. It was empty. ALL. Day. long.

Lesson #9: It's okay to like your family again, if it's convenient. My uncle died almost three years later. My big brother read the obituary in the paper and contacted us again. I'd text him all day and night, forgiving him completely. My dad warned me, but I didn't listen.

Lesson #10: People don't change. We visited him on one of his days off from his job at McDonald's. I was so excited, I was almost bouncing in the car on the way there. He let me think he was getting ready to see us. We got to his apartment and I got a call. It was my brother, wanting to talk to my mom. Their conversation was short, and when the verdict came, I thought I was ready. I really wasn't. He wasn't even at home. My older brother was asleep at his friends house after 'working' all night.

To my brother:

You taught me the most important lesson I have learned yet: Learn from your past, but don't let it affect your future. I can hope and fantasize about my big brother coming back, but the fact is; neither of us are the same people we used to be. I don't want to be who you are. You hurt me. And I'm never going to be your kid sister again.





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